Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Bryan Smith Hopes to Set New Winning Record at AMA Pro Flat Track Grand National Championship Round 8 at the Sacramento Mile

With less than four days to go until round 8 of the 2014 AMA Pro Flat Track Grand National Championship at the Sacramento Mile on Saturday, July 26 the big build-up to the huge west coast event is unraveling even faster as the time approaches. In what will be one of the premier events of the season, and surely the premier event on the left coast, fans, riders, teams and sponsors alike are ready to hit the ground running for what will be the halfway point in the season.

One of those riders and teams ready to get going for this weekend's big run at the Sacto Mile is Bryan Smith and the #42 Villa-Esparza/Crosley Radio/Howerton Products Kawasaki effort, spearheaded this season by Bryan's Dad, Barry, and by Indy locals and long-time flat track heads Jeff Gordon and Dink Glidden.

Flyin' Bryan has won the last three straight events at the Cal-Expo Fairgrounds. In the 2011 season taking his Moroney's H-D-sponsored XR750 to the win, and in 2012-13 as a member of the Howerton Motorsports troupe. It was at Sacto in 2012 that the team won their first Grand National main event together, in only their second outing (during the '12 season, the new team only ran the five mile events and the season-finale at the Pomona Half-Mile.)

This year has seen a few changes. Original team owner Rick Howerton has for the most part stepped aside in order to spend more time with his family (although he still admits to offering 'technical and moral support' to them) while Gordon, Glidden and Dad, Barry are the main men behind what is still a powerhouse team, albeit with a C&J chassis this year as opposed to Howerton's far advanced and personally designed futuristic unit from the previous two seasons. And this year, for the first time since the '87 season, the mile events are being contested sans fuel restrictors, which has so far in the first event of the season made the racing closer and tighter on the mile oval at Springfield. The question everyone is asking, with the longer straights at Sacramento, will that also hold true or will the Kawasaki mile rocket take off like a NASA rocket and leave the others sitting in the settling smoke or dust?

In the shot above, Bryan Smith has his race face on and is ready to show Rick Howerton's hometown crowd at the Indy Mile what the noise has been all about for the Howerton rocket during round 8 of the 2013 AMA Pro Flat Track Grand National Championship on August 17. Smith went on to take the #42 Howerton Motorsports/Crosley Radio/Dreyer Motorsports-sponsored Kawi to the win in front of the crowd on-hand during the 6th Annual Red Bull Indianapolis MotoGP weekend.

Also seen in the shot are the #95 TJ  Burnett Farms/Red Bull Kawasaki team of JD Beach, and eventual 2013 AMA Grand National Champion Brad Baker on the #12 Dodge Brothers Racing/Speciality Fabrications-backed XR750. In the background, Jared Mees and his #1 Rogers Racing/Blue Springs H-D-sponsored XR750 team roll out to the starting line.

While you are waiting for Saturday's action to kick in, you can also read about the first restrictor race at the Sacramento Mile that was also eventual 7-Time AMA Grand National Champion Chris Carr's first-ever mile win from 1987. A big thanks to Cycle News' Archives penman, Larry Lawrence, for this fine piece of AMA Grand National Championship history.

And read on to see what else the #42 Villa-Esparza/Crosley Radio/Howerton Products-backed Kawasaki team of Bryan Smith has to say about this weekend's super return to the west coast!

Press release courtesy of SMI, promoters of the Sacramento Mile.

Bryan Smith Seeking Sacramento Mile Record
A fourth-straight would mark the most consecutive wins at historic venue
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (July 22, 2014) – Bryan Smith has the opportunity to accomplish what no other rider in the long history of the Sacramento Mile has managed to do. Smith could become the first rider ever to win four-straight AMA Pro Grand Nationals on the famous mile at Cal Expo this coming Saturday, July 26, 2014.
Smith, 31, of Flushing, Michigan, is riding a three-year winning streak coming into this year’s Sacramento Mile, having won all three races since the return of the event to the AMA Pro Grand National Championship calendar in 2011.
As it stands now Smith is tied with Sacramento Mile legends Scott Parker and Chris Carr, who each won the race three times consecutively. Carr was the first to accomplish the feat with his three straight wins in the early 1990s. Parker matched his Harley-Davidson rival in the late 1990s. Smith tied Carr and Parker last season and now stands on the precipice of claiming one of the most impressive records in the storied history of the race.
Bryan Smith has the opportunity Saturday to set a new record of consecutive wins at the Sacramento Mile at the Cal Expo. Photo courtesy of the Sacramento Mile, by Larry Lawrence.
“It’s pretty cool to even have a shot at breaking that kind of record at Sacramento,” Smith said. “Anytime you talk about breaking a record where riders like (Scott) Parker, (Chris) Carr and (Bubba) Shobert raced for so long would be a real honor. I looked up to those guys as my heroes, so it would be really special to win four straight and own at least one record at that track.”
Last year Smith won his third straight in a spectacular finish that saw four riders come out of the final turn, just inches apart with Smith somehow managing to hold off Jared Mees, Brandon Robinson and Brad Baker at the checkered flag. The four riders were separated by a scant 0.145 seconds.
“It was going good all day, we were really dominant,” said Smith, after last year’s riveting Sacramento Mile victory. “I really wanted to try to get away from those guys and win this thing by a long ways. I had it going my way for a minute. I think I got my tire a little hot, started to fade back. Then Brad came running up the inside of me and ran me off the groove. I had my work cut out for me getting around the Harleys. They were hauling in the corners. Luckily my trusty Crosley Kawasaki was real fast on the straightaways so I got back by them.”
This year Smith will again be on a Kawasaki at Sacramento, this time around with the Villa Esparza/Crosley Radio Team. The new team will utilize Jeff Gordon-tuned, Kawasaki 750cc engines and many other components from the 2012 and 2013 Howerton Motorsports machine, in a highly modified C&J chassis by Robert Terando. The Villa Esparza/Crosley Radio Team is eager to build on the two consecutive GNC Twins Championships, with four wins, 13 podium finishes, and second place overall in the 2013 Grand National Championship earned with Smith riding the Howerton machines.
Villa Esparza is a food distribution company, owned by Joe Esparza, based in Austin, Texas. Joe is a long-time friend, and supporter, of Bryan Smith and American Flat Track racing. Esparza proudly steps into the team owner position after Rick Howerton announced he would reduce his time commitment to the AMA Pro Flat Track series at the end of the 2013 season. Howerton, Gordon and Ron “Dink” Glidden will continue to provide technical support for the team, with Bryan and his father, Barry Smith, maintaining the race bikes out of their shop in Michigan.
Founding sponsor, Crosley Radio, looks forward to adding a third successful race season, elevating the professionalism and competitiveness of the Grand National Championship on and off the track, and in the paddock. Visit www.Crosley-Radio.com or stop by the Villa Esparza/Crosley Radio Team pits to see Crosley Radio’s vintage inspired electronics.
Practice for the Sacramento Mile begins at on Saturday, July 26 at 2:15 p.m. and opening ceremonies for the evening program kicks off at 6:15 p.m.
*** 2014 Ticket Information: Ticket information is available for the July 26, 2014 Sacramento Mile at www.sactomile.com.
Fans can order tickets online  at https://secure.interactiveticketing.com/a/c84136, by calling 1-844 SAC MILE (1-844- 722-6453) or by visiting the Cal Expo Ticket Box Office in the Administration Building at 1600 Exposition Blvd., Sacramento, CA 95815 from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. (PT) Monday through Friday. Tickets can also be purchased at any ticket window during the 2014 California State Fair.
Tickets for groups of 20 or more also are available. Contact the Cal Expo Group Sales Department at boxoffice@calexpo.com for more information.
Larry Lawrence
o. (317) 852-2896
c. (317) 332-3899

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